300 – Noble Lives

When we left off, we were talking about Thegns. Specifically, we were talking about King’s Thegns and how they could wield degrees of power that could rival even the formidable Ealdormen.

At this point in this short series, the hope is that you have a sense of what incentives the economic structure created, the way that power flowed in this era, and what these titles meant in action.  

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299 – The Shape of Power

Ealdormen… Thegns… Ceorls.

These were the  important cogs in the machine of government. They had powerful roles, and held powerful spaces within anglo saxon culture.

And it’s time we get to know these roles like the back of our hand.

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The Achavanich Beaker Burial Project: Ancient DNA with Maya Hoole

Links to material referenced in the show.

298 – Uptown Ceorl

Long ago there was a settlement that had been occupied and farmed by the British and the Anglo Saxons for centuries. In fact, by the time that the Scandinavians arrived on the island, this village known as Wharram Percy was already well established, and had been inhabited continually for centuries. And it held strong for centuries more, even though it was located perilously close to the Scandinavian stronghold of Jorvik, and even after the arrival of the Great Heathen Army. In fact, this little village could well have been part of the very same lands that were shared out by Halfdan himself. Wharram Percy survived it all.

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297 – The Hundreds and the Wapentakes

We have spoken a lot about the life of a handful of individuals – namely the rulers that have descended from the line of Alfred. There are a couple of reasons for that. The first is the simple fact that by virtue of how limited literacy was during this era, these are the lives we know the most about. The other reason is that the formation of England is very much a story of politics. It was battles, and treaties, and allegiances.

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The Halloween Special

I love Halloween. I think it might be my favorite holiday, and it’s not really because I like spooky things. I actually kind of hate horror movies. The reason I love Halloween is because in the pantheon of modern holidays it stands out. Most holidays in the western world have been rebranded and repackaged to fit a christian theme or a specific nation. It’s traditional to go to church on Christmas and Easter, even if bunnies and fat men in red suits don’t get mentioned even once in the bible. But Halloween is different. There’s no awkward attempt to justify its existence.

Halloween is an out of the closet pagan holiday, and it /feels/ pagan. It feels old.

And that’s because it is. And I love that.

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296 – Darkening Skies

It begins in France.

The struggle for power between King Louis IV and Hugh the Great had been raging for quite some time…

When we last visited the continent, , Hugh the Great, King Otto of Germany, Duke William of Normandy, Count Herbert II, and various other supporting characters were allied against King Louis IV, the Archbishop of Rheims, and Count Arnulf of Flanders. In response, King AEthelstan tried to intervene by sending a fleet to support the embattled king… Suddenly King AEthelstan died, and rather than supporting the young French King, the English fleet instead opted to raid the French coast.

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295 – The Return of England

You know the pieces on a chessboard? There’s the knight, and the queen, and the castle….and then there’s the bishop.

There’s a reason why a game that simulates medieval power strategy has a piece called the bishop. Bishops had power.

And it was a power that didn’t flow from the monarchy. And in britain, it wasn’t a power that necessarily had to be aligned with the monarchy either. We’re going to see this over and over again on the island – if you were trying to rule Britain, holy men were often a wildcard in your hand of ambitions. And the more powerful the holy man, the bigger the potential upset.

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294 – It All Comes Crashing Down

The story of the last few episodes is a story about a lesson that humanity has had to re-learn again and again throughout history. When your society is ordered around a single figure it’s likely to descend into chaos the minute that figure goes away. And finding a new balance in the midst of sudden cascading failures is a difficult task that many peoples in history have failed to do.

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